There was nothing more that I liked in my youth than hustling drunken students out of their grant money in dark and smoky student unions. You can imagine my delight when ForeVR Pool landed on my doorstep to review. Thank you ForeVR for giving me a chance to relive my youth. Time to polish my stick and play with some balls.
ForeVR Pool, is it forever, or is it balls?
Everyone knows how to play pool right? Get the stick and swing it at the table and see what happens? OK, it’s not quite like that, but remember I used to hustle. The aim of the game is to sink your coloured balls and then the black 8 ball. You are only allowed to hit the white cue ball with the cue, or the game would be no challenge at all.
ForeVR Pool starts the way all games should, with a simple tutorial to get you used to the controls. Easy to learn and hard to master, my favourite type of game. Once you know what you are doing it’s time to play a match. Your first opponent looks like he belongs in prison for being inappropriate with minors, but he’s been let out as your first challenge of the day. Playing pool that is, not just running away. Ok, that’s a lie, I used the word challenge. He plays pool like the bastard son of Helen Keller and Stevie Wonder. In fact, your first three opponents do, so don’t expect a challenge any time soon. From here on it can get a little trickier with some crazy random skill sets going from missing a ball altogether to a perfect double into the middle, and all in the same game. It’s like they get possessed by Earl Strickland mid game, but only for a few shots. I am pretty sure they summon him with some dodgy dancing. The control of the cue ball is good, you can add spin and also change the angle of attack to cause various different actions. You need to be very careful to watch your power though, too hard and, well you’ll need to find the cue ball. The power is determined exactly as a pool shot is played, just lock in the aim and swing your arm.
ForeVR pool has a few options that can be used to make the experience a little trickier. You can make the aiming only go until the target ball is reached, have it so you see the target ball’s direction, or off altogether. If it’s off you will have to practice a lot though, but this will be as true to real life as you get. There is also a shot clock you can set so that you don’t have all day to think about your shot. This adds a little pressure to the game, especially with the aiming off. You can also turn on pocket select so have to indicate the pocket you are aiming for. This can be on for all the balls or just the black. This does stop the hit and hope and fluke element, one of my favourite things to do.
So what does winning get you? I hear you all screaming. Well in ForeVR Pool you play for money and experience. More money, better cues, more experience, you have the opportunity to buy the better cues. There also other halls that can be unlocked, so if you fancy a trip to Paris, you need to earn it. The better cues have different attributes, it’s not about the aesthetics. Spin, power, tip size and pulling power are all very important when choosing a cue, mainly the first two though. There is access to a virtual jukebox via the wonderful means of YouTube in every hall, so definitely better than the old smoky student unions. Bang on some tunes and bang in some balls, what’s not to like?
Well, ForeVR Pool is certainly not a AAA release, nor is it pretending to be and therefore there are a few issues that I would like to mention. When manoeuvring around the table it’s about as smooth as getting a copy of Donald Trump’s tax returns. I found myself facing various different directions that I was not expecting. When selecting where to stand as opposed to pushing the joystick sideways for smaller movements it was all good though. Tip, rest your cue ready for the shot before moving around the table, so much easier. When playing near a cushion you have to manipulate your cue to not pass through it, it’s the same with your opponent’s balls. Your opponent seems to have the luxury of cueing through solid objects though. Resting the cue ball on the cushion does not make it awkward for them, their powers are strong with the force. There are a few other physics-based anomalies, but these only really occur when you’re going to miscue in real life. Power and Spin are not a great combination.
Graphics & Audio
ForeVR Pool has a playful feel about it. The atmosphere of all the different pool halls is kind of lacking really, it’s more a gimmick than anything else. Prestige for unlocking, a goal to aim for etc… The table itself and the gameplay graphics are well executed, but alas, not without glitches. Not sure what I did but my elbow was backwards for a few shots, I did manage to untie myself without a trip to hospital though. One of the computer opponents seems to be very small, in fact, so small I kind of wished my girlfriend was that exact height so I could show off my cue skills. The cueing action is a little unusual due to the VR nature of the game and definitely looks weird, but it just becomes the norm very quickly. I just need to remember that I have to use a proper action when hustling or I’ll be a poor man.
The audio section in ForeVR Pool with regards to background music is pretty much non-existent, the ambiance is too quiet as well. In a pool hall there is a constant sound of rattling balls, chatter, dodgy songs from a jukebox and people crying because gambling wasn’t a good idea. The cues do make different noises when the cue ball is struck which can be useful to remember which cue you are using as it’s not always overly visible. When moving around there are some suspect sound effects from what appears to be an Atari ST, the same with most of the effects to be honest. There is a real retro vibe happening despite it not being waved in your face.
When it comes to ForeVR Pool, everything is in place to have some fun, you can play for a couple of games or have a bit of a marathon session. Playing against the computer players only really keeps your interest for a little bit, the best part of ForeVR Pool is the multiplayer. You can play against your friends or just pit your skills against random players from all over the world. The social aspect is great, arrange to meet up and play a quick best of three, or set aside a couple of hours for a good old chinwag over a few games. Pool tables have always been found where people get together, and in VR it’s exactly the same. It’s an evening out without being an evening out.
ForeVR Pool is genuinely a great game and a lot of fun to play. It is certainly a great foundation on which much more can come. The gameplay is thoroughly enjoyable and pretty realistic, and I look forward to playing it a lot more. In the next few updates, I hope to see 9 ball pool arrive as it’s my personal favourite when hustling, also some timed challenges, maybe a clear the table? There is so much more that ForeVR Pool can be and it’s already great. I see a bright future ahead.
ForeVR Pool pots its way to a Thumb Culture Gold Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.